My Money Mistake is a weekly PiggyVest series that explores the worst money mistakes real Nigerians have made, and the lessons they learnt from it.
For this week’s episode of My Money Mistake, we spoke to a 27-year-old creative who spent a €9000 grant in six months while living abroad. She talks about not saving or investing any part of the grant and how it affected her move back to Nigeria.
What’s your biggest money mistake?
In 2015, I was an exchange student in Europe with a €1500 monthly allowance. The programme lasted for six months and in that period, I didn’t save a cent of the money I was given.
Did you invest it?
No. I spent everything on clothes, shoes, restaurants and trips.
The weird thing is, before moving to Europe, I was in Asia living on a budget. I didn’t have a lot of money so I couldn’t ball. The moment I realised I had a steady allowance, I went all out. I could be taking a stroll and find myself in a Zara or Mac store. I spent hundreds of euros on clothes.
What did your monthly expenses look like?
My rent was €250 in a student lodge. Buying food staples was €150 and transportation wasn’t significant enough for me to remember. After paying for utilities, whatever was left was spent on shopping and eating out.
Some days, I’d spend less than €30 on breakfast; other days, I’d cover the cost of eating at fancy restaurants with my friends. The painful part was, most of the dishes we tried were terrible, over-priced nonsense. That didn’t stop me, though.
What was the most expensive thing you spent the money on?
My birthday party; I spent so much money at the club. I went with my friends and we had so much fun. After that, I went home to cry because it was the last month I’d be receiving the allowance, and I was broke.
Were your parents aware that you weren’t saving?
My mother gives great advice about everything but finance. I love her to death, but if you ever want to ruin your life, ask my mum what to do with money.
LMAO. What did she say?
She encouraged me to buy lots of clothes and shoes because when I came back to Nigeria, I’d have a lot of job interviews lined up. She wasn’t speaking from a place of connection. I didn’t apply for any job and she didn’t apply for me either, but she just believed that a lot of companies would be struggling to hire me because I studied abroad.
Was she right?
LOL. Look, when I got back to Nigeria, I suffered. That was when my stupidity dawned on me. I had six months of €1500 and I didn’t save, invest or do anything meaningful. A part of me always knew the money would finish but that part didn’t prepare me for the pain of being broke.
I didn’t get any job, I only had only €200 and NYSC was paying ₦19,800. To make matters worse, my father’s business wasn’t doing so well.
How did this affect your finances?
Going from euros to naira was hard. There were so many things I wanted to do with money but couldn’t. The clothes and shoes I got, I couldn’t wear them because they were attracting the wrong people (cultists) to me. I ended up giving my mother everything because we wear the same size.
Damn. What was your biggest lesson from this mistake?
I’ve learnt to save a lot. The only money I allow myself to touch is my passive income. Spending money is a struggle for me because whenever I think of that era in my life, the PTSD forces me to put my money aside.